Tonawanda News — It’s different, as a parent.
I’ve worked in the newspaper business for 16 years. For a good chunk of that time, I’ve dealt a lot with schools and education, and by extention, with issues of safety and preparedness.
I was an education reporter at my first full time journalism job in April 1999, during the Columbine shootings. I stood in the newsroom and watched video coverage of students running from the school, and I knew that things had changed forever.
There were threats at local schools, after that. Nothing ever came to pass. Presumably, officials told me, kids found out that spreading such rumors meant a day off school. (Most of those students also eventually found out it wasn’t such a good idea, after all.) We wrote about safety and what schools were doing and what could happen here.
Years passed. Things changed some more. There were incidents, but none of them here, and they didn’t register as anything other than a word to the wise to any district that might be lax in its safety standards.
I didn’t deal with the schools so much, those days — at least not as a reporter.
I was in another newsroom, here at the Tonawanda News, in December when the first news started coming in about Sandy Hook. (I first learned over text message, this time, as opposed to the breaking news banner on the TV. A sign of the times, indeed.)
I have kids now. It was a kick in the stomach. I watched the news trickle in, and it wasn’t just news this time. I cried, that day — I have no problem admitting it — and I had a hard time letting my sons go off to school when next Monday rolled around. I did it anyway. Such is life.